Covid-19 surge has reached critical point; says Chris Whitty

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LONDON: Britain stands at a “critical point” in the coronavirus pandemic, Professor Chris Whitty will warn, as he lays the ground for tough new controls in an urgent attempt to halt the surge in infections.

In a televised briefing on Monday, the chief medical officer for England will say the country faces a “very challenging winter”, with the current trend heading in “the wrong direction”.

Chris Whitty

Boris Johnson has spent the weekend with senior ministers and advisers discussing what action to take as the rise in the number of new cases showed no sign of slowing. It is thought the Prime Minister could announce new measures in a press conference as early as Tuesday.

Earlier, Health Secretary Matt Hancock refused to rule out a second national lockdown in England, if people fail to follow the social distancing rules.

Prof Whitty, who will appear alongside the Government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance, will explain how the virus is spreading in the UK and the potential scenarios that could unfold as winter approaches.

They will draw on data from other countries such as Spain and France, which are experiencing a second surge, to underline how their experience could be replicated in the UK.

Prof Whitty is expected to say: “The trend in the UK is heading in the wrong direction and we are at a critical point in the pandemic.”We are looking at the data to see how to manage the spread of the virus ahead of a very challenging winter period.”

Another 3,899 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK were announced on Sunday, while a further 18 people died within 28 days of testing positive, bringing the UK total to 41,777. The latest figures came after the Government announced that anyone in England refusing to obey an order to self-isolate could face a fine of up to £10,000.